Rancid royalist politics

8 01 2015

In the recent past, when the elite has discussed its various constitutions, the sections dealing with the monarchy have been considered “controversial” in the sense that the notion of a constitutional monarchy is poorly developed in Thailand and the current reign has seen a determined effort to limit the constitutional constraints on the monarchy. If PPT’s collective memory is correct, the discussions of the sections dealing with the monarchy in the deliberation of the 1997 constitution were held in-camera.

When the military junta seized power in May 2014, it scrapped almost all of the 2007 constitution, with the significant exception of the sections on the monarchy.

As the military dictatorship considers its new constitution, the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee has so far said little about the monarchy. It has considered proposals about a number of changes to the political system, although the outcomes of these are anything but clear.

Yet, if a report at Khaosod is a good indication, rabid royalists are determined to have an even more powerful monarch, less constrained by the new constitution.

Retired commander of the Thai armed forces General Saiyud Kerdphol, long a buddy to the great political meddler and Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda, “has urged drafters of the new constitution to allow … the King to intervene directly in politics…“.

The king has long intervened, and to give them their due, Khaosod points this out.

So this call is not for the standard intervention of the palace-monarchy conservative coalition, but for something more significant.

Saiyud wants the new constitution to define the “channels for the King to intervene” on the basis that he should “solve any political crisis in the country…”.

In fact, most political crises in the country, at least in the past few decades have been as a result of actions by the military, palace and royalists. Sure, there have been others, such as the red shirt risings of 2009 and 2010, but these have been responses to the interventions of these other groups of perennial meddlers. After all, it is the military, always with palace support or acquiescence, that conducted illegal coups in 1991, 2006 and 2014.

In the pickled world of old farts, political zombies, military jackasses and lumbering dinosaurs that Saiyud inhabits, his claim that he wants the king to be politically interventionist “in order to prevent further coups in Thailand” would make sense. However, no moderately sane person possessed of a few brain cells could possibly by this nonsense.old-farts-and-jackasses

According to this mad monarchist,

… the King should have the constitutional authority to exercise power “through the military, or the Statesman that he has appointed.” In Thailand, the honorary title of “Statesman” is currently held by Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda, the former unelected Prime Minister who is now serving as a top adviser to King Bhumibol.

There’s his elder military brother popping up in a role that Saiyud has promoted for Prem previously.

In Saiyud’s world, this “will help prevent more military coups in Thailand by allowing [the king] to solve political crises as soon they arise, thereby freeing the Thai military from ‘needing’ to intervene.”

The nonsense is that coups result when the palace wants to sort out its political problems and resolve its political fears. This would amount to a return to an absolute monarchy in all but name and would require that the king have control over all aspects of the coercive elements of the state.

Saiyud seems to not understand that monarchies went the way of the dodo because blood is not a trustworthy mechanism for choosing a political leader.

Prayuth, Prem and fascists

10 05 2014

While Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha continues to rule out a military coup, saying they “would not end the current political problems…”, he added that “soldiers would always be the people’s last resort.” PPT thinks this means: let the judicial coup work to its end, and the military will only intervene if the red shirts mass and it gets violent.

Meanwhile, Privy Council boss and political meddler par excellence General Prem Tinsulanonda has had one of his minions state that he is “not involved in the current political standoff in any way…”. Nobody believes him. That Prem returned to Bangkok on Friday in time for the anti-democrat rally and after Yingluck had been given the double whammy by Prem’s royalist courts is a statement of intent, if circumstantial evidence of the old dog’s continuing involvement in the political shenanigans.

Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda

Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda

More incriminating is the role of the geriatric royalists who went to Prem with ideas for royal intervention just a couple of weeks ago. Back in 2006, it was Prem who had to go out and convince the military to get rid of Thaksin Shinawatra. He can’t do that this time as he cost the monarchy dearly last time – so much so that the monarchy is now routinely seen as politicized.

In Prem’s stead, this time it is the geriatrics who are trying to convince the military to intervene. While the report states that “was cool to its appeal,” the actions of these closely connected royalists, all of whom have been close to the palace and Prem, suggest otherwise.

Led by a former military officer who has been close to Prem since at least the 1960s the old men’s group is to “push its agenda of seeking His Majesty the King’s discretion in ending the political crisis through armed forces commanders…”.

General Saiyud Kerdphol said his group “would ask commanders of the armed forces to seek the royal discretion.” The “royal discretion” bit means intervening and appointing an unelected government of royalists and fascists.

The Post identifies the conspirators as including “former air force chief ACM Gun Pimarnthip, ex-army chief Gen Wimol Wongwanich, former naval commander Adm Vichet Karunyavanij, ex-naval chief of staff Gen Suravudh Maharom, lawyer Amorn Chantarasomboon, political science scholars Pramote Nakhonthap and Chai-Anan Samudavanija, and former foreign affairs minister Surapong Jayanama.” All are coup plotters and/or royalist/fascist ideologues.

They say “the current crisis needs to be solved by the intervention of the army and … the King.” They seem rather less patient than Prayuth.

Abhisit and Prem doing deals

28 04 2014

As deals are being done in a murky darkness of backrooms and party rooms, Abhisit Vejjajiva is being attacked by almost everyone for his proposal to end the political crisis, attention again turns to the grand old schemer, General Prem Tinsulanonda.

Abhisit has not publicly revealed much about his “plan” so far, but states, according to the Bangkok Post, he realized that “reform before election faces several legal restrictions. My stance is also clear that with an election before reform the crisis will resume…”.

He speaks of a plan that has support from unnamed backers. Or perhaps he speaks in the British toff style of the royal “we.” Who does back the “plan”? He also makes the extraordinary claim that: “This reform project I’m initiating has nothing to do with politics.”

His plan would seem to be no election for a time, while making an election part of reform processes. As might be expected, the Bangkok Post backs Abhisit’s “plan” even if it has little revealed substance:

The former prime minister tried hard to make his proposal positive. In an atmosphere of constant criticism, that is an excellent start. His “blueprint” is indeed essential to decent governance. Political reform, timely elections and adherence to rule of law, in this case the constitution, are necessary. Rather than “reform before election” or vice-versa, Mr Abhisit foresees a master plan enveloping both, while adhering to the supreme law.

This approach has led to claims that he and Oxford chum Korn Chatikavanij have done a deal with pro-Thaksin Shinawatra groups and relatives that would again make Abhisit premier.

These claims of a deal have come from anti-democrats ranging from unelected, yellow-shirted senators to a gaggle of PAD-related activists and followed a yes-no response from the Democrat Party on meeting Thaksin. They feel scorned by Abhisit who has long supported the anti-democrats. They are coming to the view that he is both a narcissist and a traitor.

If there was any truth to their claim that Abhisit has done a deal with the man he hates, then the fallout for the Puea Thai Party and Thaksin-related groups would probably more politically disastrous than the ill-considered amnesty bill. Abhisit is a tainted politician that the broad mass of Puea Thai supporters will reject.

Closer to the anti-democrats is a proposal by “a group calling itself Rattha Bukkhon (State Citizens)” led by Prem Army buddy Saiyud Kerdphol. They are claiming the support of the old schemer.

The Bangkok Post is reporting that the Privy Council president “only listened” to a “proposal to end the political turmoil by [the]… group…”.

Prem flunkey Lt Gen Pissanu Putthawong said his boss “did not agree with nor commit to any of their suggestions…”. Yet this hardly matters. Prem is deeply engaged in political shenanigans.

Pissanu was responding to a “remark after Gen Saiyud … told reporters that Gen Prem had agreed with his group’s idea of seeking His Majesty the King’s discretion in pulling the country out of the crisis and asked him [Saiyud] to draft a royal command to that effect.” Pissanu said Prem made no promises to Saiyud.

Yet Prem still “invited Gen Saiyud for talks because he wanted to hear his detailed proposal, know who were in his group and what was the group’s objective…”. That sounds like nonsense as Prem already knows all these old men and is a long-time Saiyud friend.

One thing that is clear in all of this scheming is that the political momentum is not with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Puea Thai as the old royalist elite gets motivated.

With a major update: Old men’s business

15 04 2014

Over the years, it has been remarkable how often General Prem Tinsulanonda seems to time his public appearances to coincide with forthcoming political events. PPT guesses that this is because he is involved in such events, often very deeply and therefore times his appearances for maximum public impact.

We acknowledge that Songkhran is upon us, and that usually entails the sycophantic slithering off to Prem’s taxpayer funded abode to pay him the attention and deference he feels he deserves. Yet his most recent spate of appearances began a few weeks ago and have continued.

Everyone, including the mainstream media, recognizes that the aged Privy Council President is engaged in politics and is making a political statement with the intention of shifting the course of events.

Everyone, including the mainstream media, recognizes that the aged Privy Council President is also engaged in politics behind the scenes, nagging, cajoling and ordering that things be done as he wants them.

Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda

Privy Council President General Prem

Prem does this so regularly and he has done it since the 1970s at least, meaning that his extra-constitutional politicking for the palace is effectively normalized. The oldest man in the palace still mobile can be assumed to speak for something like the “collective palace,” even though that lot are fractured, ill, aged and/or loopy.

You would think a 94 year-old would just wait out the fires of cremation, but not Prem, for he seems to feel a little royal himself, regularly seen in royal-like poses, and he clearly covets the power and tribute he receives as the voice of the collective palace.

Over the decades, Prem’s main task has been to ensure that loyal royalists fill the top slots in the military, army, Ministry of Interior, judiciary and other major government agencies. He has been highly successful, and part of the hatred of Thaksin derives from his attempts to shake up this “Premocratic” royalist cabal.

The most recent Prem intervention is is reported in the Bangkok Post, where Prem lauds the armed forces and the police as his “real friends” and he sees them as “united.” Given that the Army is undoubtedly royalist and that almost every member of the bras owes their position to Prem’s royal seal of approval, there’s no surprise there. However, the police are generally seen as being politically aligned to Thaksin Shinawatra; certainly that is the anti-democrat’s mantra.

He lauds both groups as a “force to be reckoned with, that can keep out elements harbouring ill intent against the country.” He means anti-monarchists. PPT has a suspicion that the struggle for control of the police is not finished, and Prem’s men are working hard. Hence the sometimes contradictory actions by the police in facing the armed and unarmed anti-democracy militants.

Making his point stronger, Prem says: “If we keep together like this, we will be strong and make those with ill thoughts for the country fearful of us…”. He thanked both forces for their loyalty to him.

Interestingly, this display of mutual posterior polishing and sycophancy is one normally led by the minister for defense. At present that is Yingluck Shinawatra, and she was conspicuous by her absence.

When Prem is on the march, political events – such as the 2006 military-palace coup, seem to result. Keep watching the old men.

Update: As if on cue, the old men are back in the limelight. No sooner had we completed the above post than a report has emerged that has the geriatric brigade working for Prem’s centrality in the current political struggles.

A “group of retired soldiers and former state officials” – in fact, the usual old men – “has called on … Prem Tinsulanonda to step in to help defuse the political crisis.”

It might well be asked how Prem, so central to many of the political disputes since he effectively rallied support for the military-palace coup in 2006, could ever “defuse” a situation he has done so much to create? The answer, of course, is that the geriatrics asking Prem to help them are anti-democratic royalists who know Prem is an ally.

They also know that he is “collective palace,” for the “group wants Gen Prem to act as a ‘middle man’ to work under His Majesty the King in finding ways to end the country’s turmoil.” That is the king they mention and want to be involved. To “protect” the king, they suggest “Prem should function as an intermediary between the King and other parties, since His Majesty has said he cannot be involved directly with political problems.” Boy, these guys are sharp! Like bowling balls.

Leading this bunch of aged ninnies is General Saiyud Kerdphol, the “chairman of the People’s Network for Elections,” which is a group that seems not to want elections but royally-appointed government.

Saiyud’s links with Prem go back to the 1960s when both were involved in U.S.-funded counterinsurgency operations. PPT would guess that Prem has been consulting with these aged plotters and that he would not have made these calls without Prem’s approval.

Saiyud said Prem:

could consult judicial agencies, the military and leaders of other organisations to draft a proposal to end the crisis. That proposal could then be forwarded to the King, who could instruct the statesman on how to proceed.

He argued the statesman’s post was originally created to carry out royal commands in times of crisis and perform responsibilities as directed by the King.

As far as we can determine, that last claim is simply concocted and has no basis in the legal framework of the Privy Council, although we acknowledge that Prem may well have played this role since joining the Privy Council.

Another member of Saiyud’s group is the royalist propagandist Pramote Nakhonthap, who previously worked for PAD, and was arrested once as an airport occupier with PAD and a plotter against the Samak government in 2008, trying to get the Privy Council/palace to throw out that elected government.

Pramote claimed that:

the King’s wishes should be heeded in the event of national emergencies. But he insisted the group is not asking the King to install a prime minister.

Mr Pramote said no statesman had assumed such a ”middle man” role before, but said that does not mean the King could not choose to exercise his power that way.

These plotters want the king to act in concert with the judicial coup, earlier if possible. Prem is certainly at it again.


Old men united

3 02 2014

This video is all over social media. Unfortunately, PPT doesn’t have the time (or even inclination) to translate the meandering machinations of a bunch of silly old men who think Thailand is theirs.

You get a flavor for their perspective from earlier, very popular posts at PPT:

Dangerous old men or just silly old men?

A country for old men? Also available as ประเทศนี้สำหรับคนรุ่นเก่าหรือไง.

What is it about these silly old men that makes them think they are able make the best decisions for the country. Some of them are suffering the problems of old age, such as memory loss, but this doesn’t seem to bother them in deciding that they know what is best for the country. Military men and anti-democratic propagandists, they seem to want to return to a period way back in the 20th century.

Siam Intelligence blog lists those involved. Some of the names that stuck out for PPT were: old Cold War warrior General Saiyud Kerdphol (he’s 92 and acts it, if the video there is anything to go by as the reporter finishes his sentences for him), yellow-shirted ideologue Chai-Anan Samudavanija, 84 year-old royalist Amorn Chantarasomboon, a former secretary-general of the Council of State, ultra-royalist propagandist Pramote Nakhonthap, who is meant to be in jail as a 2008 airport occupier, former junta-appointed government secretary of the PM’s Office Suraphong Chainam, former Army boss General Wimol Wongwanich, Air Force General Kan Pimarnthip, and a bunch of other aged air force and navy brass

Some of this lot were also mentioned recently as “negotiators” for the palace in ousting the “Thaksin regime.” Many of them first became activist – if that is the right word for these geriatrics – this time around when the so-called “anti-government People’s Army” mentioned “the names of 30 high-ranking officials, including military men, who back the group in its campaign to bring down the Thaksin [Shinawatra] regime.” The names listed then were:

The group, led by Admiral Chai Suwannaphap, Thaikorn Polsuwan and General Preecha Iamsupan, held a press conference announcing the names of supporters. These include former Army chief General Wimol Wongwanit, former supreme commander General Saiyud Kerdphol, former Air Force chief ACM Kan Pimanthip, and Admiral Bannawit Kengrian. Prasong Soonsiri, former chief of the National Security Council, would act as adviser.

We are unsure who the woman in the photo is, although a reader suggests it is one of Chai-Anan’s collaborators.

This geriatric lot might have been Thailand’s future in 1973, when they were younger and were the elite’s ideas men. Now they are just old men with nothing to make but political mischief in support of the elite of the past.

Updated: This is for the king II

31 01 2014

The idea that the palace isn’t showing favorites in this political struggle was again shown to be false when it agreed to a royal cremation for slain anti-democracy demonstrator Sutin Taratin. Of course, we haven’t seen any such events for the dead red shirts.

This is yet another signal that the palace is firmly supporting the demands made by Suthep Thaugsuban and his anti-democrats.

On the subject of the role of the palace, Shawn Crispin at Asia Times Online, who can always be relied on for a great story of intra-elite intrigue, backroom deals and unnamed sources, true or not, has some comments worth perusing.

He begins by reasserting a 2011 pre-election deal between Thaksin Shinawatra and “the royal palace and military top brass.” As far as PPT can determine, the source of this rumor is Crispin himself. Every other reference to this “deal” draws on Crispin’s article claiming this in 2011.

Crispin also sticks with his claim that the red shirt protest was “Thaksin mobilized and financed to topple the Democrat Party-led government in 2010 after a court seized over US$1 billion of his personal assets.” We think that when you deal only with the elite and the intrigue, you miss what’s really happening on the ground. This claim that Thaksin paid for it all is as silly as saying that all votes are bought or that the current demonstrators are all paid dupes of Suthep and his backers. Sure, there some funding of rallies – there has to be – but dismissing real grievances is dumb politics and blind journalism.

That “Thaksin’s rehabilitation and return from exile is still deemed as non-negotiable at the highest royalist levels” seems an unremarkable observation, deal or no deal.

We do think that Crispin’s description of the anti-democrats is probably accurate. He says it is:

Fronted by former Democrat party member Suthep Thaugsuban and tacitly backed by a royal establishment with power centers in the bureaucracy, courts, military and monarchy….

He’s also correct to note that the upcoming election “will almost inevitably be marred by violence and finally ruled null and void by establishment-aligned agencies and courts.” And, we have said this too:

Other cases, including a fast-tracked impeachment motion against Yingluck for her alleged role in overseeing a mismanaged and widely criticized rice price-support scheme and pending charges against over 250 Peua Thai politicians for trying to amend the constitution, threaten to create a political vacuum before the Election Commission, as widely expected, officially nullifies the poll result. [Premier] Yingluck [Shinawatra] could be indicted in the rice-price case as early as mid-February.

We agree, and we’d add that those backing the Suthep lot have to keep them on the streets until the judiciary can act against the government in a 2008-like judicial coup. Crispin says this is the royalist strategy:

top royalists have bid to leverage the two-sided squeeze of anti-Shinawatra street protests and legal impeachment pressure to force Yingluck’s resignation and Thaksin’s acquiescence to the formation of an appointed ruling council.

If this scenario comes about and there is no major pro-Yingluck backlash, we think Crispin is also right to say:

… Thailand is more likely headed towards a period of appointed rather than elected governance, a political shift that royalist institutions will justify with rule-by-law arguments and will be backed but not overtly orchestrated by military force.

While much of this is speculation based on past experience, Crispin is on shakier ground when he gets back to his plots and intrigues. He says:

the push and pull is a reflection of ongoing and unresolved behind-the-scenes negotiations between Thaksin and senior royalists comprised mainly of retired senior soldiers, according to diplomats, mediators and a well-placed military insider familiar in varying degrees with the situation. Those negotiations through intermediaries have to date failed to reach a new stabilizing accommodation.

From what we have seen, we doubt there are any real negotiations. The royalists and palace seem to have determined to be rid of a pro-Thaksin government one more time.

Crispin mentions these negotiators: former army commander and defense minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, 2006 coup makers Lieutenant-General Winai Phattiyakul and Prasong Soonsiri, and retired General Saiyud Kerdphol. If Thaksin were dealing with these guys, he’d be bonkers for they all hate him.

As Crispin notes, this lot are in line with the anti-democrats in wanting “a purge of Thaksin’s and his family’s political and business influence, and appointment of a people’s council’.” They also want Thaksin’s whole family in exile.

None of this requires much negotiation unless the royalists are frightened of a red shirt rebellion.

ConnorsCrispin then follows this with speculation regarding succession, none of which is new. We’d simply point out that the snip from Michael Connors said similar things more than a decade ago. One way or another, speculation on succession and royal death has been going on for a very long time!

Crispin then speculates on violence, with no evidence whatsoever. He notes attacks on protesters but says nothing of attacks on red shirts. Why does only one kind of violence matter at this point in his narrative? Simply because his is speculative thinking out loud, quoting others doing the same.

Some of his claims, though, deserve quotation just for the tortured logic that gets the reader back to some real facts:

One [unnamed] military insider claims that January 17 and 19 grenade attacks on the PDRC were perpetrated by mafia elements involved in illegal video-game gambling and with links to police in Pathum Thani province north of Bangkok.

Okay, this is pretty speculative, but then this:

The [unnamed] source believes rogue police may have hired proxies to exact revenge for PDRC assaults on its personnel and property, while avoiding direct confrontations with military members, including soldiers in plainclothes serving as PDRC guards at certain protest sites.

That seems interesting to us. Rouge police suggests that there is no orchestrated government violence, which Crispin spends considerable time discussing.

Military personnel acting as anti-democrat guards. Interesting indeed.

Finally, Crispin gets to some verifiable facts while admitting he really doesn’t know what is happening:

Police officials have suggested that the PDRC, or allied military-linked culprits, have staged the attacks to frame the government and regain momentum amid signs of flagging popular support for their protests. Police arrests of active Navy Seals near one protest site, and the capture of an apparent military-linked suspect transporting war weapons from the army base central town of Lopburi to an unknown recipient, feed that narrative. Whatever the case, both sides have hidden incentive to escalate the shadowy violence.

Finally Cripin speculates on red shirt reaction and dismisses it, saying “UDD pro-election rallies organized in Thaksin’s and Yingluck’s geographical strongholds failed to galvanize large numbers…”. We think he’s not been watching this. His speculation on Thaksin “launch[ing] a UDD-led rural insurgency aimed at partitioning the country,” is simply the wildest speculation PPT has heard for a very, very long time, even from Crispin, who publishes the most outlandish of this stuff.

Readers can make of this what they will. Fairy tale? A few facts and lots of story? Who do the “informants” want this stuff to be heard by?

What is clear is that this is yet another bit of royal interventionism.

Update: Above it was noted by Crispin that “military members, including soldiers in plainclothes [are] serving as PDRC guards at certain protest sites.” The Bangkok Post confirms this:

More security guards have been recruited to provide protection for the protest leaders, most notably for the PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban.

Mr Suthep is driven around in a vehicle surrounded by a convoy of motorcycles made up of plainclothes police and soldiers. The convoy includes four to six security vehicles.

Updated: Dad’s army

7 08 2013

The so-called People’s Army was discussed a few days ago at The Nation. In the report, as the “peaceful demonstration” began at Lumpini Park, with just a few thousand participants.

The significant element of the report is that the “anti-government People’s Army yesterday revealed the names of 30 high-ranking officials, including military men, who back the group in its campaign to bring down the Thaksin [Shinawatra] regime.” This is who is said to be supporting and leading it:

The group, led by Admiral Chai Suwannaphap, Thaikorn Polsuwan and General Preecha Iamsupan, held a press conference announcing the names of supporters. These include former Army chief General Wimol Wongwanit, former supreme commander General Saiyud Kerdphol, former Air Force chief ACM Kan Pimanthip, and Admiral Bannawit Kengrian. Prasong Soonsiri, former chief of the National Security Council, would act as adviser.

Other supporters were said to include “high-ranking officials, from the police and military whose names could not be revealed because they were still in office.”

Sounds like Dad’s Army to PPT. Most of these persons have palace connections and have long been agitating against all pro-Thaksin governments.Dad's army

At Bangkok Post the usual claims – they were made about red shirts as well – that protesters are being paid are trotted out. We seldom put much stock in such claims although it is known that keeping a rally going is not cheap. In this case, it is easy enough to mobilize a couple of thousand aged and die-hard royalists and anti-Thaksinites. The government’s claim is that: “The money’s from businessmen who work in construction in Bangkok and nearby provinces. They have billions of baht to spend in an effort to topple the government…”.

The Democrat Party is opposed to anything from the government, so their tacit support of Dad’s Army is expected.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva states: “If there’s a clash between different groups of people, I want all sides to stay within the law. The one who can end the conflict is the government…”.

Meanwhile, his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, “said his party will halt its parliamentary activities and join forces with anti-government protesters if a single person is killed in Sunday’s rally.” He added: “Do not threaten us. If a civilian is hurt or killed, I’ll be the one to topple the government and the prime minister [Yingluck Shinawatra] will have to pack her bags and live abroad.” No one was and there was not an incident. However, PPT wonders what Suthep and Dad’s Army has in mind, especially as Suthep seems so excited.

A clearer statement of Democrat Party involvement in the planning of the Dad’s Army rally is provided by loudmouth People’s Alliance for Democracy supporter and Democrat Party member and former foreign minister Kasit Piromya. Unaccountably, this unguided missile was interviewed by a usually respectable Australian news program, and he kept referring to protesters as “we.”

Also at The Nation, Thaksin is quoted as ridiculing the Dad’s Army rally, “saying many core leaders were people without noteworthy achievements. The Democrats were reprimanded for siding with the protesters. The opposition bloc should relax and wait for its turn to form the government, he said.” He added that: “Many leaders of anti-government campaigns were retired senior military or police brass with ‘broken hearts’ from missing out on key positions during reshuffles when they were still in the service.”Democrat lead protests

Update: Above we alluded to the Democrat Party’s support for the People’s Aged Army. It is now clear why Suthep was excited and why Kasit was talking about the PAA as if partners. The Nation reports that:

Democrat Party’s heavyweights on Wednesday are walking from Uruphong Intersection towards Parliament, accompanied by thousands of anti-government protesters. Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai were seen beside Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajia.

Royalists see Thaksin as a problem

6 09 2009

Also available as สำหรับพวกคลั่งเจ้า ทักษิณคือตัวหายนะ

Yes, we know, a dog bites man headline. In fact, though, The Nation (6 September 2009: “Broad reforms needed now”) reports a story that has some interest for PPT as the gathering of royalists is usually an indication of political maneuverings underway.

The Nation story claims that “academics” and others got together to “call for removal of root causes of problem haunting the country” and to reassert that Thaksin Shinawatra is “funding unrest.” As usual, when royalist “academics” get together, Chulalongkorn University is the venue.

The story notes that “comprehensive reform” is required. These people have come together to try to shape some of the ideas about reform and to control the agenda. This has been seen in previous rounds of political reform, when the elite tries to maintain its control.

These royalist and PAD-associated academics and other discussants apparently agreed that, “as long as Thaksin continued his political activities, the country would not achieve reconciliation and undertaking political reforms would be problematic.”

Amorn Chantarasomboon added a twist when he said that “there was no guarantee the country would achieve political stability even if Thaksin withdrew from politics.”   Declaring the political system “a dictatorship by capitalists,” Amorn said he wanted simultaneous “administrative, legal, and justice reforms…”.

Amorn, like many royalists, stated that “political reform should be undertaken by politicians, because they had a conflict of interest…”. His suggestions are for committees that would oversee reform – now who might get those positions? And who might nominate or appoint them?

The report then mentions one of the most important royalist commentators: retired police general Vasit Dejkunjorn. On Vasit see here. In 2006, Vasit’s In His Majesty’s Footsteps. A Personal Memoir, was published in Bangkok. It expressed his great love for the king and royal family.

Vasit added to the “academic” discussion, saying that “he had been told by unconfirmed but reliable sources that Thaksin had sent a huge amount of laundered money through other people’s bank accounts to fund political activities and create political disturbances in the country.” He believed that the red shirts were being “used” by Thaksin and that “Education is the best medicine [to solve this],” adding that “Our country will not come to this point if people understand the politicians’ true colour.”

The links to earlier PAD thinking can be seen in this, but the tone is classic royalist: politicians screw things up and they can’t be trusted, so “education” about the true nature of things will sort this out. The real story is invariably focused 0n the true “good people” in the palace.

And, just to confirm his perspective, Vasit doesn’t see elections as solving anything: “… dissolving the Parliament was not a solution to national problems because a general election did not guarantee that the country would get ‘a new breed of MPs or Senators who put the country’s interests above their own.” This line was strong in 1992-97 as well.

Another discussant and royalist who supported PAD, General Saiyud Kerdphol, “urged Thaksin’s family to stop him instigating political unrest and to face the justice system.”

Saiyud said that red shirts threatening to stage a mass rally might see the government unable to control it and a military coup might result – the fear argument again.

These positions are “classic” royalist positions by senior spokesmen for elite interests. That they have come together and attacked Thaksin and his family, as well as elections and politicians, suggests that there is a great concern amongst the royalists about their continuing political control and are fearful of broader debates.

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